Are doctors denigrated for the high rates of diabetes? Are the police officers responsible for crimes? Why are teachers responsible for the lack of parenting? For the impact of poverty?
How can teachers be “graded” on student progress when we have no control over students out of school experiences?
Why aren’t “they” listening to us?
The educational community: parents, principals, teachers and advocates all feel the current government education policies are seriously flawed; no matter how much they express their opinions no one seems to be listening to their cries.
From blog comments to Diane Ravitch tweets the drumbeat continues, without apparent impact.
I was chatting with my neighbor, we agree on politics, he was worrying about Rick “Sanatorium,” and brought up the teacher evaluation plan.
“Teachers should be responsible for students outcomes, on my job if sales dip it’s my fault.”
For the wider public policies that the school community abhors, resonate,
… Siena Research Institute, asked respondents, “Do you support or oppose the Governor’s plan to link school aid increases to the implementation of an enhanced teacher evaluation process?” Seventy-one percent said they support that plan…
The support was evenly split between respondents in New York City and the rest of the state and was especially high among black New Yorkers (77 percent) and young people between 18 and 34 (78 percent). Households with union members (61 percent)…
The New York Times begins an editorial supporting the agreement on a teacher evaluation plan with the phrase, Thanks to an agreement brokered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The Governor’s support of a teacher evaluation system based on 40% student test scores is strongly supported by the public, and, the governor is more popular than everyone, except Jeremy Lin!
The art of politics centers on framing issues – presenting an issue so that the public supports the issue, or, questions the policies of the “other guy.”
The famous “Where’s the beef” Wendy commercial was used by democratic presidential aspirant Walter Mondale to question the “new ideas” of his opponent, Gary Hart.
Chip and Dan Heath, the authors of “Made to Stick” have studied why some ideas are so effective, why they embed in the public mind, why they “stick.”
Mark Twain once observed, “A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.” His observation rings true: Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus public-health scares circulate effortlessly. Meanwhile, people with important ideas-businessmen, educators, politicians, journalists, and others—struggle to make their ideas “stick.”
The Heaths’ study of “sticky ideas” points to six commonalities,
- Simple: Simplicity is achieved when an idea is stripped down to its core, to the most essential elements that make it work …. Simple does not have to mean short (but it helps); what is important is that the single most important thing be highlighted.
- Unexpected: The best ideas represent a break from the everyday, the ordinary, the status quo. They become sticky when they interject themselves into our established patterns, forcing us to sit up and take notice. Once our attention is grabbed, sticky ideas refuse to let go, holding our interest by creating in us a need to discover the outcome, …
- Concrete: Abstraction is the enemy of stickiness ….. Some of the stickiest ideas are fables, myths, and legends — … The piling on of specific details — who, what, where, when, why, in journalism-speak — makes ideas become realities and allows us to directly relate to them. They also make ideas more memorable — every fable has a patronizing moral attached to it, but it’s the image of the fox leaping to reach the sweet, ripe grapes that sticks with us.
- Credible: Sticky ideas give us a reason to believe they’re true (even when they’re not) … Statistics are useful, though they suffer from a lack of concreteness; sticky ideas make statistics accessible, bringing them too a human scale that makes their significance clear. Another source of credibility is personal experience, ideas that are clear to anyone who has come across a situation before ….
- Emotional: Give your audience a reason to care about your idea. Sticky ideas resonate with us on a level below our immediate consciousness — … Sticky ideas appeal to our wishes, desires, and hopes, and interlock with our image of ourselves.
- Stories: Why do we go to the trouble of telling fables and myths when we could just as easily tell people the moral? …. stories act as simulation chambers, allowing us to come to their morals on our own terms … stories provide us with a surplus of meaning, allowing us to extend ideas beyond their original domains — which only increases their stickiness.
My neighbor continued our conversation, “Bloomberg has been a good mayor, but, he really screwed up the schools.”
A “sticky idea:” Bloomberg really screwed up the schools.
The hundreds of demonstrations, almost daily newspaper coverage showing parents of every race and ethnicity angrily confronting the mayor, the criticism by other electeds, Mike Winerip’s NY Times articles, and, finally the UFT TV infomercials, all resulted in the embedding of a sticky idea: Bloomberg screwed up the schools.
Once upon a time we waited for the weekly Time and Newsweek magazines, we moved from a weekly news cycle to a 24-hour news cycle to an instantaneous delivery of news and opinion, frequently indistinguishable from each other.
Ask a group of under-30′s how they get their news, none, that’s right, none, will say from the print media. The Internet, Facebook, Twitter, cyberspace spews forth nano-bits of information.
Some bits of news/editorial/fable/myth stick while others blow away in the cyber winds.
We have heard over and over again: “A great teacher for three years in a row impacts a student for a lifetime.”
It is a “sticky myth,” no matter how much research challenges the idea, (see detailed refutation here) it “sticks” and drives educational policy.
The Tennessee teacher evaluation plan stumbles badly in its first year (see NY Times article here ), a veteran teacher whacks the NYC evaluation plan in a NY Daily News op ed, NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, no friend of teacher unions, lauds the leader of the AFT,
The breakthrough experiment in New Haven offers a glimpse of an education future that is less rancorous. It’s a tribute to the savvy of Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers and as shrewd a union leader as any I’ve seen. She realized that the unions were alienating their allies, and she is trying to change the narrative.
In spite of the New York State teacher evaluation agreement more and more “bits” of info are having doubts about the efficacy of giving too much credence to test scores.
Maybe I’m too hopeful, but, perhaps, just perhaps the glue is loosening and the stickiness of measuring teachers by student growth is waning.